My understanding of leadership at the beginning of the Fellowship was all about making decisions. Having the confidence to decide and feeling good about the decision. When you are forced to make a decision there will always be consequences good or bad. You can weigh the pros and cons, or you can rely on what is best for the majority. It seemed like I was in positions where I didn’t have time to assess every decision, so I fell back on my morals. The morals are personal, reflecting the life journey. The people and experiences that crossed in front of you on your path. I am the former Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. As the Chairman of our Nation, I made decisions every day and I was able to rest at night because I was confident that I made the right decision. My life has always been about trying to create a better future for our Nation. The decisions I made put me in positions of leadership. I was fortunate to have families that are caring and nurturing. Not everyone has that exposure and not everyone has a choice.
Now my understanding of leadership has changed. I still believe leading is a skill or an art in making deciding. Leading is also understanding the impact on others and the ability to change the perceptions of world views. In the past, leading has been uncomfortable as I was pushed to the front to lead. As a natural introvert, I don’t care for the exposure. The Fellowship has helped me look from the back and still have an impact or change worldly views.
As a Nation’s leader, I was focusing on many issues and trying to address everything under the sun that included economic development, law enforcement, education, land, social ills, casinos, workforce, government, financial state, housing, transportation, energy, etc. It was challenging. As I shifted to my current work, I decided to scale back and only focus on one community. Make a change in that community that will impact our future. Starting with the land I decided to be hands on and do. Working with over 500 acres of abused farmland and implementing regenerative agriculture practices. It’s been two years and slowly the land is changing. The land is in the community and the practice of regeneration started with the land but is incorporating social regeneration. For social regeneration, I looked at creating something long lasting for the youth. Bike trail system. To accomplish the social regeneration, I needed to create a non-profit and bring on others to help. We created an entity with a strategic plan, and I am not out in front. Along with regenerative ag and social regeneration, we are planning to build an interpretive center that will tell our untold indigenous stories from our perspective. Starting with one community seemed small but now that I reflect, our project is ambitious, and it is a huge undertaking. Time will tell but the change we seek isn’t something soon but further down the road. Long term lasting impacts for those not yet born.
My view on self-care is acknowledging three areas, spiritual, mental, and physical. When all three areas are in balance, leading is more likely to happen. The physical area is now becoming the most difficult for me to sustain. As I grow older, I can see my physical health sliding. When I am in good physical shape, I feel good about myself. If I am eating unhealthy food, then I will have an unhealthy body. I will be less likely to lead. Recently, I had a kidney stone. The most painful thing I have ever experienced. I was forced take a closer look at my physical being. Not only did I have a kidney stone, but my blood pressure has been rising. My doctor prescribed some high blood pressure medication. As a leader, it is about deciding (making a decision). What is best for my health? It’s not that easy.